In case you missed it, French wines dominated the list of winners at The Business Times Wine Challenge 2015 - CEOs' Choice award ceremony on Oct 9.
A record 176 entries were submitted by registered wine wholesale companies and merchants based in Singapore. The event is into its third year and awards were given out by Singapore Press Holdings' financial daily The Business Times, in partnership with Swiss banking group UBS.
Here is a recap of the Top 10 list of wines:
Domaine Pierre Labet Meursault Les Tillets 2012 ($97)
Distributor: Corney & Barrow, tel: 6809-3900
Les Tillets is not a classified growth, but in the hands of Francois Labet, it sure feels like one.
Having adopted natural wine making techniques including the reduced use of spray, fermentation with only natural yeast, and minimal clarification, the result is a more distinctive wine that differs from classic neutrality.
Pierro Chardonnay, Margaret River, 2012 ($118)
Distributor: Hai Choo Wines & Spirits, tel: 6515-6538/9
Margaret River, in Western Australia, can be ranked as one of the top wine regions of the last decade. Thanks to ideal growing conditions, the Langtons vintage chart has scored Western Australia exceptionally well since 2007.
Mike Peterkin founded the winery in 1979, and has been an unconventional figure in the neighbourhood.
He encourages sensible use of irrigation to ensure vines continue to perform in the dry months before harvest. He also puts his wines through malolactic fermentation to create a seamless expression of flavour and a creamy texture.
Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca 2013 ($70)
Distributor: Alfa International, tel: 6222-3977
La Rocca was first bottled in 1978 and was the work of Leonildo Pieropan.
The wine was rich and round with complexity, unlike the bland and lean Soave wines available on the market at the time. But Italians didn't take to La Rocca. It simply wasn't Soave enough.
Soft-spoken Leonildo knew his wine was special and continued making La Rocca his way.
At times mistaken for a Grand Cru Chablis, his efforts were finally recognised a decade later, which also allowed the spotlight to shine on Garganega grapes.
Garagiste Merricks Pinot Noir 2012 ($78.50)
Distributor: Sarment, tel: 6636-9863
The name Garagiste comes from the French term for backyard winemakers who make wines that deviate from traditional standards. In the hands of Australian Barnaby Flanders, however, Garagiste is about making small quantity wines that best exhibit the subtlety of Australia's Mornington Peninsula. Merricks is a town in Mornington Peninsula where Flanders grows some of his grapes. He aims to preserve all the characteristics of Merricks' brown loam and volcanic soil through wild yeast fermentation, minimal handling and bottling without filtration.
Byron, Santa Barbara, Pinot Noir 2013 ($62)
Distributor: Enoteca Co, tel: 6836-3068
Byron Winery was founded in the 1980s by Byron Kent Brown, who built his winery on the first commercial vineyard of Santa Barbara planted by Uriel Nielson in 1964. The business changed hands several times and was once in the portfolio of major companies, including Robert Mondavi Winery and Constellation Brands, before it came under Jackson Family Wines. Going forward, Byron wines will be renamed Nielson and bottled with the name of its local wine pioneer. Byron Santa Barbara Pinot Noir is known as being rich and exotic - a characteristic that can only be achieved with a long growing season.
Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2011 ($84.50)
Distributor: Richfield Brands & Services, tel: 6764-9463
In 1976, Steven Spurrier picked six Californian Cabernet Sauvignon wines to pit against four great Bordeaux wines. The Californian wine won the contest. The event, which was later known as the Judgement of Paris, was re-enacted 30 years later using the same wines from the same vintages. The Californians won again, and one of the winners was Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971.
Wine of the same name continues to be bottled by the company, but the same Monte Bello vineyard is now divided, and wines that are considered more accessible go under the Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate label. About a quarter of the wine is made from Merlot, which adds more flesh to the firmly structured Cabernet Sauvignon.
Remoissenet Pere & Fils Nuits St Georges 2010 ($96)
Distributor: Le Sommelier Consulting, tel: 6333-1982
Before the last decade, Remoissenet Pere & Fils was not a name associated with quality red wines. But this changed after Roland Remoissenet sold the French winery to a consortium for 10 million euros. After the transaction in 2005, the former president of Louis Jadot, Bernard Repolt, took the reins. He grew the holdings from two hectares to about 18 hectares. The business also transformed from buying wines to buying grapes, giving greater control over the quality of finished wines. The Nuits St Georges 2010 is one of these wines grown and bottled in the estate.
Chateau Certan de May, Pomerol, 2009 ($150)
Distributor: Vinum Fine Wines, tel: 6735-3700
While Chateau Certan de May may not be as famous as Right Bank Bordeaux stars such as Petrus, Vieux Chateaux Certan or Le Pin, its geographical similarities and proximity have allowed some prestige to rub off on it. With the help of oenologist Michel Rolland, Chateau Certan de May is typically made as a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that have an average age of 45 years. The sandy-gravel top soil that resembles the Bordeaux Left Bank gives the wine its plush texture and dark fruit juiciness.
Yves Cuilleron Crozes Hermitage Rouge Laya 2012 ($63)
Distributor: Alfa International, tel: 6222-3977
The Crozes-Hermitage appellation is one of the eight Crus of the northern Rhone valley in France. But with planted vineyards exceeding 1,200 hectares, the appellation name by itself offers little indication of the style of a wine.
Yves Cuilleron took over his family business in 1987 and has since acquired vineyards in six other Crus. His Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Laya 2012 is made from 100 per cent Syrah and is meant to be approachable when young.
Drink early, possibly within six years.
Bodegas Epifanio Rivera, Ribera del Duero, Tinto Fino 2011 ($52)
Distributor: KAL Wine
The Rivera-Aparicio family built the Bodegas Epifanio Rivera winery in 2004 in Spain's Ribera del Duero region, but the scattered vineyards they acquired existed long before that. Some of these forgotten vineyards still have vines that were planted before the phylloxera infestation reached Spain. Phylloxera is a root louse that feeds on the sap of vine roots, and farmers often graft grape vines to phylloxera tolerant root stock. Although grafting has ensured commercial success, some criticise grafted vines for altering fruit characters. The vines that contributed to Erial Tinto Fino are between 30 and 60 years of age - old enough to offer quality over quantity.